Memorable Manitobans: James Armstrong Richardson (1922-2004)
Born at Winnipeg on 28 March 1922, son of James A. Richardson and Muriel Sprague, he attended St. John’s Ravencourt School and later graduated with a degree in Political Science and Economics from Queen’s University in Kingston. During the Second World War, he enlisted with the RCAF and served as a pilot in anti-submarine patrol over Labrodor and Iceland. On returning from military service, he joined the family grain business of James Richardson & Sons, working in its grain export department at Montreal, the grain merchandising department at Toronto, and Richardson Securities in Toronto. He returned to the Winnipeg head office as Vice-President, serving for several years before becoming Chairman and CEO in 1966. He also served on the Board of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, International Nickel Company, Investors Group, Hudson’s Bay Company, and Canadian Pacific Railway.
In 1968, he resigned from his corporate responsibilities to represent the constituency of Winnipeg South in the Canadian Parliament, being re-elected at general elections in 1972 and 1974. He was a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet for ten years, serving as Minister Without Portfolio (1968), Minister of Supply and Services (1969-1972), Minister of National Defence (1972-1978), and Chancellor of the Royal Military College (1972-1978). He quit the cabinet in 1978 over his concern about the implementation of official bilingualism, and sat as an Independent, after which he did not seek re-election.
He was Chairman of the Board of Governors for St. John’s Ravenscourt School (1952-1965) and Honorary Chairman (1965-1978), a Trustee of Queen’s University (1958-1969), Director and Chairman of the Max Bell Foundation, a Founding Member of the Canada West Foundation (1970-1997), National Chairman of the Fundraising Campaign for the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada, Trustee of Winnipeg Community Chest (now United Way), founding Director of the Manitoba Heart Foundation, and a councillor of the Sports Marketing Council.
For his community service, he received the B’nai Brith of Canada Humanitarian Award (1975), a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), 125th Anniversary of Confederation of Canada Medal (1992) and was the first recipient of the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba’s “Twice the Citizen” Award (1999). For his military service, he was awarded the War Medal (1939-1945), the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp, the 1939-1949 Star, and the Atlantic Star.
He died at Winnipeg on 17 May 2004.
“James Richardson fatally stricken,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 June 1939, page 1.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 18 May 2004, page 21.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 30 November 2017
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